My friends send me chain e-mails about a variety of issues.
Sometimes, when a story in the e-mail interests me enough to find out more, I send them a reply requesting for the source of their information. (I guess it's an occupational hazard for anyone with legal training; wanting to know the basis of any information that one seeks to rely on.)
A lot of times, my friends come back and reply that they have not verified the information.
I received one such e-mail a few days ago. It is about an event, which involves two famous celebrities, Oprah Winfrey and Tommy Hilfiger.
The story goes: "I'm sure many of you watched the recent taping of The Oprah Winfrey Show, where her guest was Tommy Hilfiger. On the show, she asked him if the statements about race he was accused of saying were true. Statements like"...if I'd known African-Americans, Hispanics, Jewish and Asians would buy my clothes, I would not have made them so nice. I wish these people would *NOT* buy my clothes, as they are made for upper class white people." His answer to Oprah was a simple "YES". Where after she immediately asked him to leave her show."
There are other versions being circulated too.
Both celebrities have shared that this incident did not happen.
One website, which is a useful source for verifying such chain e-mails, notes, "Tommy Hilfiger is not the first or last famous person to be falsely accused of publicly telling certain ethnic groups to not buy their products. Liz Claiborne, Lauren Hill and Shakira all stand accused. None of the accusations stand up to scrutiny. Some are based on misunderstandings, while others, like the one above, are complete fabrications built on favorite elements of urban legendry. Break this Chain."
Delivering the Commencement Address at Yale University in 1962, the late American President John Fitzgerald Kennedy shared: "As every past generation has had to disenthrall itself from an inheritance of truisms and stereotypes, so in our own time we must move on from the reassuring repetition of stale phrases to a new, difficult, but essential confrontation with reality. For the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie - deliberate, contrived and dishonest - but the myth - persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. Mythology distracts us everywhere."
It is important to verify what we are told. Otherwise, being the inherently fallible species that we are, we too become distracted by mythology and risk ending up as liars.
And if you are one of those who have been circulating this unfortunate story about Tommy Hilfiger, do Tommy a favour, redeem yourself and buy his clothing today.